It started with the Chrysler PT Cruiser. There was much excitement at the press launch of this retro people-carrier but then a collective sigh of horror after we had driven it.
How could something so cool be such a terrible drive? BMW later nailed it with their Mini but somehow VW has missed a massive opportunity with the latest Beetle.
The styling is fantastic and this Dune model turns heads – so why is it lifeless behind the wheel? It’s all the most perplexing when you consider the brilliance of the Golf, or the Jetta, with which it shares the same platform.
It’s brilliant as a fashion statement but the drive is less than engaging – espeically with the DSG automatic gearbox that works so well in other VW models.
And then there’s the price. Perhaps it’s no wonder my Dune test car is turning so many heads – it’s such a rarity. Nobody is prepared to pay £25k upwards to own one…
I’ve been Dune roaming this weekend… mostly country stuff, where the 2.0 TDI engine feels strangely underpowered for a VW unit.
Ever since I sold my own 1.4 TSI for being woefully lifeless I’ve been waiting for a ‘hot’ version of the Beetle to get excited about.
None of them break the eight second barrier, not even the R-Line ‘sporty’ version. And the extra torque of the diesel TDI is nothing to write home about either.
Just feels a bit sad to me – all the style but nothing under the bonnet. Just like Melania…
The problem with driving a brightly coloured car is that you don’t know why pedestrians are pointing at you.
Is it VW’s Sandstorm yellow paintjob – or is the Beetle Dune the coolest thing this side of a Mini? (or just a bit silly?)
It’s certainly, erm, eye-catching. Even on the inside, the dashboard is a colour fest of dials (mostly pointless) and yellow paint.
So to avoid motorparanoia, I’ve taken to mostly driving it in the dark. The headlights are very good. I suppose to some folk it might look rather fecthing even in daylight.
I just can’t get my head around jacking up a car by 10mm and adding some decals to make it look better.
And then there’s the price – this particular car is £31,225 with all the extras!! More on that tomorrow…
I should declare an interest from the start. Four years ago I briefly owned a new Beetle. I went out to buy a sensible Passat estate and came home in a Bug. It happens…
I soon realised the 1.4 petrol engine wasn’t equipped to deal with the demands of my right foot, so I binned it for a BMW 6 Series. Great car that was too.
So I wanted to try the TDI torquiness of Beetle in Dune form. Would it rescue the car I used to own – or is it really just a speciation edition that is all form and no substance? Four-wheel drive isn’t even on the options list.
Once I’d got over the price – £25k or there about, I took delivery of this very, erm, yellow coupe. More over the next few days when I’ve found my sunglasses…
June 23 If you want another reason why petrol-electric hydrid cars should be the future, just read today’s story from the BBC stating ‘diesel cars more polluting below 18C’ http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-36589106.
New research suggests many popular diesel cars are worse when the temperature is below 18C. If it wasn’t for the EU referendum, this would be the lead story – and it stinks!
I’m not the ‘greenest’ person in town but I do get the feeling there’s a lot more we don’t get told about the polluting nature of the cars we drive. VW, of course, are in the thick of it with their ‘issues’ but at least the Golf GTE is a breath of fresh air.
There are plenty of hybrids around that offer the same package but the GTE is also great fun to drive, beautifully built and, yes, cool!
It’s my last day with the Golf. It’s not cheap and economy peaks at 44mpg but I can’t help but like it. Would I buy one over a performance Golf R? Not sure living in the country but if I lived in London then a definite ‘yes’.
June 21 The transition between combustion engine power and electric motor is hardly noticeable in the Golf GTE.
But find yourself in stop-start traffic going up a hill, with the car in full electric mode and the Volkswagen doesn’t like the terrain at all.
It judders forward in tiny kangaroo skips that encourage you to switch straight back to hybrid mode.
Otherwise, it’s fun trying to squeeze the most mpg from the GTE by switching between modes via the infotainment system.
Just remember this is a car that performs best around town. I’ve spent the weekend on long distance treks any only just managed 41mpg.
Worth considering if you’re expect to turn the world green with your £33k hybrid car,,,
June 20 Like turning up at a vegetarian conference eating a hog dog, arriving at a festival of cycling in a car isn’t a good thing.
Indeed, you can almost feel those two-wheeled fanatics cursing your combustion engine and health damaging particulates.
So when I arrived at the Eroica Britannia (www.eroicabritannia.co.uk) in Derbyshire in my Golf GTE, I wanted to hoist a flag declaring that my car was actually running on electrical power rather than petrol.
You see, the GTE looks so similar to the standard Golf, you just wouldn’t know it was a hybrid. But I think the VW was just about the coolest four-wheeled machine there.
Even if only a handful of people at the Eroica actually realised I was running on clean air…
June 18 Just off to Ascot – hopefully to win enough money to buy a Maserati. Only kidding, I’d settle for one of these Golfs actually.
For some reason I’ve never owned a VW – which is weird because I rate them pretty highly. Especially the R, which is fantastically quick and so easy to drive at speed.
The GTE is sleepy by comparison but I love the fact it has uber-green credentials and still churns out enough performance to make the ride to the racecourse exciting.
This is the first hybrid that has really turned me on to the idea of owning a petrol-electric. Pretty pointless living in the sticks but I can usually find a good reason to buy any car if I like it.
So, I’ll report back on Monday with mpg – which of course won’t be anything like the official 166 claimed – and how what the Golf is like to live with in the real world.
I hoping it lives up to the promise…
June 17 Volkswagen announced yesterday that it plans to launch 30 all-electric cars in the next nine years – making itself the leader in green transport.
The company says that by 2025 all-electric cars would make up some 25 per cent of annual sales. It will also move VW on from the damaging scandal it is battling to put behind them concerning diesel emissions.
Our Golf GTE shows how well they are doing. It’s an exceptional hybrid – despite the price – but there is something Volkswagen could do to further enhance the GTEs image.
Lead a campaign to give motorists real-world economy figures! The official mpg tests for cars are carried out over a short distance, which means any hybrid car will appear to give remarkable economy figures well over 100 mpg.
It’s a major frustration to buyers – and a source of bad feeling – that must be rectified. And with VW struggling to put the emissions scandal behind them, what better way to ‘come clean’ on economy.
June 16 After a week of madness in the Caterham Seven, it’s something of a relief to be able to step into a car without the need for ear-plugs or having to perform a double-jointed manoeuvre to squeeze aboard. Working windscreen wipers are a bonus too.
There’s also an element of cool about this particular Golf. Based on the world’s benchmark hatchback, here’s a car that gives you instant eco credibility in a brilliant all round package.
Unfortunately, what’s hard to ignore is the price. I’d be fascinated to know what kind of person will pay £33k for a hybrid Golf. If they want economy, a TDI version will more than equal it. If they want speed, the R is a class leader.
I’m just not sure the GTE offers enough to warrant that price tag. Slice off £8k and I’d be first in the queue…